Friday, October 17, 2008

Alcohol admissions triple at central London hospital

Adult alcohol-related admissions to an inner London hospital have tripled in the last four years, according to new research.

Trends in admissions were studied at the emergency departments and in medical admissions at two inner London hospitals – University College Hospital and the Whittington Hospital from 2004-8.

The total number of adult in-patient admissions at the two hospitals rose from 998 in 2004-05, to 2,690 in 2007-08. Adult attendances linked to alcohol in the emergency departments rose too - from 2,560 in 2004-05 to 3,434 in 2007-08.

Dr Andrew Smith, lead researcher, and colleagues found the figures for University College Hospital demonstrated a clear trend. This was not the case with the Whittington data.

University College Hospital is located in an area with a high concentration of pubs and nightclubs whilst the Whittington is not, which might be the reason for the increase in alcohol-related attendances at this hospital, they suggested.

Separately, they examined trends in teenage alcohol-related presentations. No increase in hospital admissions was observed, although the number of A&E attendances for under-18s rose from 98 in 2004/05 to 165 to 2007/08.

‘This increase coincides approximately with the change in the licensing laws. While under-18s might not generally be expected to be drinking in licensed premises, the law changes also affected off-licenses which may be of relevance,’ said Dr Smith.

The Licensing Act 2003 came into effect in November 2005. This change appears to have been paralleled by an increase in the presentation of alcohol-related illnesses in these two hospitals, conclude the authors.

‘A three-fold increase in the total number of adult admissions is noted at one hospital which if repeated at other centres, would have significant ramifications on NHS resources if this trend continues,’ they added.

The data were presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of General and Community Psychiatry Annual Meeting in Manchester today.

It follows last week’s calls for strong public policy measures to counter the alcohol problem in society. Dr Nick Sheron and colleagues said changes to price and availability of alcohol would work better than clinical treatments or Government initiatives to cut alcohol-related harm.

Writing in Gut, they say evidence from the WHO, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the EU, show that the best way of reducing consumption and alcohol-related harm is to tackle price.
source: On Medica

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